Gambling Malady as a Social Problem During the Second Constitutional Period in Istanbul
Afyon Kocatepe Üniversitesi, Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılâp Tarihi Bölüm Başkanlığı, Afyon/TÜRKİYE
Keywords: Gambling, Ottoman Empire, Second Constitutional Period, Anti-Gambling Measures, Coffeehouse
The primary purpose of this study is to examine the reasons for the spread of gambling malady, which deeply affected social life in Istanbul during the Constitutional Monarchy period and the measures taken by the Ottoman State against gambling.
Although the Second Constitutional Period chronologically constituted a short period of time, it was a historically striking process in which many shocks lived in economic and social terms. The problems encountered in this period were the results of the wars from the 19th century onward, land losses, political tensions related to the constitutional management, libertarian environment, socio-economic crises, non-paid salaries, immigration, and the state of being open to European cultural and physical influence. The social, economic, and political tensions experienced during this period influenced the society deeply, and disintegration appeared in the social structure. Increased actions such as drinking alcohol, gambling, debauchery, and prostitution during this period indicate the existence of social decay.
During the Second Constitutional Period, the gambling malady reached a shaking dimension to the social and moral structure of the society, the family structure was damaged, and the spread of gambling among the civil servants, in particular, undermined the reputation of the state. Gambling, which became a common illness, forced the Ottoman governments to take preventive measures, but the legal regulations and the preventive police measures failed to prevent gambling.
İstanbul, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, has been the city that felt the existing problems and tensions the most deeply.
This city was while experiencing the pains of transformation to become a westernstyle capital since the second half of the 19th century also hosted to a western lifestyle. In this respect, nightlife was enlivened, and clubs, bars, restaurants, casinos, and hotels formed the new places of entertainment. The traditional pattern of the capital of the Ottoman State was degenerated, and drinking alcohol, gambling, and debauchery became common in coffeehouses and other places.
The primary sources of this study are the documents from the Ottoman Archives of the Presidency. Moreover, periodicals published during this period were used as sources in this study as well.